Teenaged Mutant Ninja Corn Plant

GruntTruckJanuary 26, 2014

So I recieved three corn plants from a coworker about a year ago. Two of them are doing great. They are happy, vibrant and growing without a care in the world.

And then there is the mutant. They all came from the same plant, they all have the same soil, they all are in the same area, nothing is different about any of them and yet this one is weird.

When I got it, there was only one stalk at top. The leaves were curled in all directions; length and width wise. Some were stunted, stubby nubs and others were long and healthy. Then four shoots started to grow. The two in the middle of the stalk turned brown and died yet the one at the base grew quite nicely. Under the the foremost leaf at the bottom of the pic is another sprout starting at the base of the plant.

At the very top of the plant, new leaves are starting to come up, yet about a week ago, two large leaves that were at the bottom of that shoot turned brown and were removed two days ago.

They are all growing in a mix of coir, perlite that had been rinsed and schultz orchid mix, because I couldn't find any pine bark fines.

I couldn't find any bugs on any of them, they get a mix of indirect sun light and a grow light. The roots weren't bound up or choking and nothing was dead or dying. I haven't given them any ferts either.

So.. what's up with this monstrosity? Should I just embrace it's uniqueness and diversity or is there something sinister going on here? Oh and also that's just dust, too.

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

If you're using coir at more than about 10% of the mix (most commercial enterprises that use any coir set that as the upper limit), you need to use a fertilizer very low in K, or one that has no K - because of the coir's very high K content. Coir also has a high pH, at about 7. This high pH precludes the use of lime as a source of Ca/Mg because it additionally increases pH. Even after rinsing thoroughly (to rid the product of residual salts from using seawater during production), I've never been able to substitute coir for peat or CHCs for bark and be even close to satisfied with the results.

It might be possible that someone poured something into the soil of one of the plants either before or after you received it, or some pother cultural difference is causing symptoms in only one plant. For example, if that plant is in a larger pot or has a smaller root system and you water all the plants at the same time, the fact they don't use water at the same rate would have an impact on root health/function - which would be manifest in symptoms at the top of the plant.

What are you using for fertilizer/ how much/ how often? Did you add lime when you made the soil?


    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 11:11AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

why is it plugged in??? .. lol ...

google propagation of such ... and you might get some insight into how the plant grows ...

the tall, bare stalk .. which you are assuming is normal... probably isnt ... and can be cut into hunks.. left to dry.. and planted ... [and that is why ist such a common houseplant ....]

and each piece will bud out ... just like yours is ...

so i dont really understand.. your words.. why do you consider it mutant... because it budded low???

as such.. if it survives.. you could cut off all the top ... propagate it ... and be left with a low very healthy plant... which in the long run might be better.. since they usually end up.. in the long run.. getting so top heavy.. they keep falling over ...

i have no idea why the other sprouts failed ....

good luck


    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 11:17AM
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Oi.. writing posts at 3 am is not a good way to get the entire picture out..

I seem to have accidentally left out critical details.

The corn plants all came in pots that were identical. They were given to me in I am assuming a miracle grow type soil. I have yet to fertilize them since I have gotten them. This coworker gave me several other plants (d.marginatas, pineapples, reflexa) as well as these and after a few months, a couple of them started to turn on me. The leaves wilted, not looking too happy. So I uprooted them, saw that they were in crap conditions, IE some of the other pots didn't drain, etc. So I went on a mass repotting binge, checked all the roots of all the plants,regardless of their state, cleaned what I needed and replanted them in new pots and more Miracle Grow. The corn plants were in the best condition for the most part. I simply untangled and trimmed up some of the roots and replanted.

After doing some heavy reading in regards to D. Marginatas, as they were giving me the most grief, I picked up that general consensus was Miracle Grow is rubbish and so I made this stuff about a month and half ago for the marginatas, and then eventually went after the reflexa and corn plants with this new stuff. I did not however add lime to the coco coir when I mixed it up as I was under the impression, for some reason, it was fine without. I probably got my wires crossed somewhere.

Now for the corn plants, on what I call the two "good" plants, their leaves got longer, wider and new growth started to come. For the mutant, the old growth perked up a bit, the leaves weren't as droopy but mostly stayed the same while the new shoots started to form. The shoot at the very bottom grew the quickest and then the two in the middle crapped out, while a new one at the base is begining to form. The shoot at the bottom doesn't connect with the main plant above the soil level. When you look at the pot, it looks like it is its own stalk.

I'd say it's safe to assume that there is more than 10% coir in the soil, as my method of measuring wasn't all that spot on, kind of half eye-balling, half measuring.

I'd say it's probably about 5 parts shultz, 1 perlite and 2ish cococoir. Also to note, my municipality does not add floride to the water.

If i should fert this stuff , do you recommend any products in particular and what method should be used?


This post was edited by GruntTruck on Sun, Jan 26, 14 at 21:21

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 5:23PM
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So a day or so later, since i got no other reply, I purchased a bottle of wegener's liquid 8-6-6 fert and gave my plants a half strength dose and here is where I am at.

They are much more pale yellow than the pictures show and that purple spot started about a day ago. So is there anything more I can do about this or is this plant doomed? I thought about ditching the soil it is currently in and replacing it with something basic like miracle grow until it heals.

I am at a loss here, and I do not know what else to do. I have tried researching what the problems could be but unless I see pictures of corn plants with similar issues, I am not sure.

Any help would be appreciated.
Thank you.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 4:45AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

If the only problem was an excessively water-retentive soil, you could work around it. You didn't answer whether or not you included lime in the soil you made. If you did, you're probably having pH issues. If you didn't, you probably have both Ca/Mg deficiencies. Flushing the soil now won't eliminate the coir's high K (potassium) content or the fact that it's pH is too high for you to use lime in the soil. That means your Ca/Mg has to come from some source OTHER than lime, & I bet if you look at what your fertilizer supplies, Ca/Mg isn't included.

It doesn't do us any good to fix what we can when we know there are inherent issues remaining that are certain to be limiting ..... kind of like a downhill skier who loses a ski & breaks a leg on a downhill run. Loss of the ski is potentially limiting, but looking at the big picture we see reuniting ski & owner won't do much to get the skier back on track until well after it's too late.

Ideally, it would now be Jun instead of Feb, one of the worst months to repot, and you would have available a soil that allows you to water correctly that you could repot your plants in. That is to say, a soil you can saturate completely and continue to water after saturation so you're flushing dissolved solids from fertilizers and tapwater out of the soil when you water. Unfortunately, soils like that aren't likely to be found on the shelf. Most off-the-shelf soils are based on peat, compost, composted forest products, and other materials ground fine enough to ensure your plants will suffer all the while the soil is holding too much water.

It's not logical to maintain the status quo and hope for a change because you can't fix what's limiting your plants; so, your choices are, grab a bag of soil off the shelf and learn how to mitigate its limitations, or make your own soil and sidestep the myriad issues you're grappling with.

Your input?


This post was edited by tapla on Sun, Feb 9, 14 at 10:49

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 10:42AM
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Thanks for your timely response. I did mention that I had not added lime to the coco-coir when I made this stuff. The guy that sold me this fert said it'd be fine for the cal/mg issue which I had a feeling was the problem, which is now becoming obvious it is not.

I suppose I could remake the soil, and use peat instead of coco-coir. I don't have bark fines, but I do have orchid mix left. If I were to go that route, should I supplement it with cal-mag or the like while it readjusts to the new soil?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 4:05PM
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